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ATLANTA – Earning its second bowl berth in three seasons, the Georgia State football team will travel to Orlando to play in the AutoNation Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Dec. 16 at 2:30 p.m., facing Western Kentucky. The game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
The Panthers (6-5, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference) are returning to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, where they also made their first bowl appearance in 2015.
Under first-year head coach Shawn Elliott, Georgia State earned a fourth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers won five times on the road, tied for second nationally.
“We are thrilled to be going to the AutoNation Cure Bowl. This is a great opportunity and a reward for our student-athletes, our fans and our university,” Elliott said. “It’s an exciting time to play in our second bowl game ever and have the potential to win our first bowl and set the school record for wins.
“This game supports a tremendous cause, and there is no better bowl destination than Orlando,” Elliott continued. “We are looking forward to going down there with great support and playing an exciting game against a quality opponent in Western Kentucky.”
The GSU offense features one of the nation’s top receivers in sophomore Penny Hart, who leads the Sun Belt with a school-record 73 receptions for 1,094 yards with eight touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Conner Manning averages 260.9 yards passing per game with 13 touchdowns while leading the conference in completion percentage at 63.7 percent. Versatile running back Glenn Smith is one of just three active FBS players with at least 1,000 yards rushing, 1,000 receiving and 1,000 return yards in his career.
The defense features senior cornerback Chandon Sullivan, a two-time all-conference selection who is one of 13 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation, and sixth-year senior safety Bryan Williams, who leads the team with four interceptions.
Although Elliott is coaching in his first bowl as a head coach, he is no stranger to bowl games and postseason success. As an assistant coach, he helped lead South Carolina to six bowl berths and four bowl victories in seven years. Before that, he was an assistant coach for an Appalachian State program that earned 10 FCS playoff appearances in in 13 years, highlighted by three consecutive NCAA titles (2005-07), along with two trips to the national semifinals and three berths in the quarterfinals.
“It has been an exciting season for our program under first-year head coach Shawn Elliott,” Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb said. “We are extremely excited to be returning to the AutoNation Cure Bowl and bring our program to back to Orlando. Our players have worked hard all season long and this is the ultimate reward. We encourage all of our alumni, fans and students to join us in Orlando as we celebrate the second bowl game in program history.”
“We are excited to welcome the Georgia State Panthers and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to the 2017 AutoNation Cure Bowl,” President of the Orlando Sports Foundation Mack McLaughlin said. “We are looking forward to a high-scoring game, with two high-profile players: Florida-grown Mike White, who is the number four passer in the nation, and GSU sophomore Penny Hart, who ranks eighth in the nation in receiving yards.”
The Cure Bowl is about bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer,” AutoNation Cure Bowl Executive Director Alan Gooch said. “The AutoNation Cure Bowl is more than a game. It’s a celebration of the women who are living with breast cancer today and creating awareness for those who will face it in the future.”
Western Kentucky, also under a first-year head coach in Mike Sanford, is 6-6 overall and 4-4 in Conference USA, finishing tied for third in the East Division. The two schools have played one common opponent this season; Georgia State shut out Charlotte 28-0 while WKU downed the 49ers 45-14.
The two teams have met once previously, with WKU winning 44-28 on Nov. 2, 2013 at the Georgia Dome in Georgia State’s first year in the Sun Belt Conference and FBS but the Hilltoppers’ final season in the Sun Belt.
For tickets, visit GeorgiaStateSports.com or call the Georgia State Ticket Office at 404-413-4020 beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday morning. Tickets are priced at $50 for sideline seats and $25 for endzone seating.